There is no better time of year than right now. Summertime is always the time where bands take advantage of the warm beautiful weather and hit the road. This summer, classic rock legends Def Leppard are hitting the road with their friends Styx and Tesla. On Sunday, July 12, the trio rolled into the Buffalo area with a show at the Darien Lake Performing Arts Center.
Shows at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center usually draw people to the adjoined theme park before the show. Throughout the day while walking around the park, Def Leppard shirts could be spotted everywhere. Seeing all of the fans in the park was an early sign that it was going to be a packed house. Hundreds of people were waiting for the gates to open at 6 p.m. so they could be the first ones in. Before Tesla took the stage at 7 p.m., fans were lining up to get food, beer from concessions and shirts from the merchandise booth.
When the house music stopped shortly before 7 p.m., a look around the amphitheater proved that fans were there to see every band of the night and not just headliner Def Leppard. Tesla took the stage with a loud applause from the crowd and started the show with “Edison’s Medicine (Man Out of Time).” The crowd seemed to enjoy every second of Tesla’s set. The excitement really came out of the crowd when guitarist Frank Hannon played the opening chords of “Signs” and then continued with another classic of theirs, “Love Song.” Opening bands don’t normally fill an entire amphitheater because most people use it as extra time to mingle and get their beer. That wasn’t the case on Sunday night for Tesla. Lead singer, Jeff Keith, was spot on the entire night hitting notes from songs written over 20 years ago. The closing song of the set, “Modern Day Cowboy” capped off a high energy set that left fans definitely wanting more from them. After Tesla had finished their set, there was chatter all around the seats about how awesome the band had sounded and how amazed they were.
Styx was next up for the night and fans were definitely warmed up and ready. From the start of the set, fans joined the members of Styx by singing along to every song of the night. Opening the set with “The Grand Illusion,” Styx had an entire night planned with only their best songs. Changing backgrounds with each song to coincide with its album or theme, Styx kept the crowd on its feet. Styx looked like they were having more fun playing on stage together than anyone else in the crowd. The band’s energy and enthusiasm was through the roof and out of the amphitheater. While the rest of the band took a short break, singer and keyboard player Lawrence Gowan kept the crowd entertained with covers of “Rocket Man,” “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay.” The band came back out after and played “Come Sail Away” before walking off stage one more time prior to the encore. Some fans thought the band was finished and started leaving their seats to the concessions. Shortly after though, the fans came scurrying back as they heard the applause of the crowd as Styx played “Rockin’ the Paradise” and “Renegade.” Guitarist, Tommy Shaw and the rest of Styx were spot on the entire evening and left the crowd eager to see Def Leppard.
As the lights dimmed and a giant Def Leppard banner was dropped down in front of the stage, fans knew it was only a matter of time before the finale began. The show opened up with “Rock! Rock! (Till You Drop)” and the giant banner getting sucked up into a vacuum instead of falling to the bottom of the stage. Def Leppard wasted no time after that, going immediately into songs “Animal,” “Let It Go” and “Foolin’.” Whenever the house lights lit up the crowd, anyone could see it was a packed house. There wasn’t an empty inside seat visible and fans filled the lawn all the way to the back. Lead singer, Joe Elliott, sounded great all night long as well as the rest of the band. Vivian Campbell, who’s been battling Hodgkin’s lymphoma on and off, showed no signs of slowing down. Both Campbell and Phil Collen were spot on with their guitar parts while frequently going out on the catwalk into the crowd together. The production for Def Leppard was done perfectly and synced with each song; whether it was neon signs or a wall of TVs. The set included “Two Steps Behind,” which Joe Elliott did solo with an acoustic guitar. Rick Allen and Rick Savage kept the band tight on the drums and bass. The band ended the night with “Rock of Ages” and “Photograph” which features a history timeline of photos on a giant LED screen behind them.
This massive tour has already had a few stops in New York and is due for 2 more later this month in Wantagh and Saratoga Springs. Check out the rest of the tour dates here.
For the event schedule for Darien Lake Performing Arts Center, click here.